How to Prep Effectively on a Tight Budget

We recently mentioned that many expert preppers put away a year’s worth of food. Now you’re probably wondering how you’re going to afford to buy all those supplies at once.

Don’t worry—we’re going to cover how to prep on a budget right now.

Remember when we talked about not trying to do it all at once? There was good reason for that. Most of us think that we’ve got to do everything right now, but that would be impossible. No one can prep for every possible disaster scenario at once, which means we all need to find ways to prep on a budget.

This means doing it a little bit at a time. Can you afford five bucks per day? Three? One? Whatever you can spare, set that as your budget. Don’t let yourself use that amount for anything else.

Here are the best ways to make use of any prepping budget:

Watch Out for “Packaged Solutions”

There are a number of companies out there who are providing pre-packaged survival food in five-gallon buckets. I’ll have to admit that they are wonderful. You get everything you need for several meals, along with fire starters and other supplies, already portioned and packaged for long-term storage.

There’s only one problem: they’re expensive.

I don’t have a single one of those buckets in my stockpile—not one commercially packaged MRE, not one package of backpacking food. Everything in my stockpile is normal food that you can get off the grocery shelf.

Keep in mind that if you buy normal supermarket food (aside from canned food), it’s not packaged for long-term storage. However, you can repackage just about anything so that it will store for 10 years or longer.

Protein Is Expensive

Okay, that wasn’t any great revelation, was it? Buying meat for protein is probably the single most expensive thing on anybody’s grocery lists.

In a survival situation, beans are a great substitute for meat. Sure, they may not taste as good, but they are inexpensive, they have long shelf lives and you can survive off of them.

There are many types of beans available in your local supermarket. Before stockpiling any variety, buy a couple of types and experiment with cooking them. You’ll need find out how to prepare them in dishes that your family will willingly eat; otherwise, you might have a mutiny on your hands.

One thing that works well is to use a little bit of meat or bullion with beans. That provides the meat taste without as much expense.

Take Advantage of Sales

If stores want a sale, let’s give them a sale. If Wal-Mart has canned chicken on sale for a dollar a can, it sounds to me like it’s a good time to stock up on canned chicken.

Food pantries frequently provide a significant portion of several families’ food for $10 per week. How do they do that? By shopping sales. The people running them take the little bit of money they have and look for the best deals they can find.

When you find a deal, take advantage. After Christmas, I bought 30 or 40 three-pound summer sausages for a buck apiece! On another occasion when a local grocery store was closing its doors, we went to the liquidation sale and bought a couple hundred dollars’ worth of food at 40% off.

Rediscover the Lost Art of Couponing

Okay, I’ve never really been into couponing. I tend to forget that I even have coupons.

Fortunately for me, my wife is really good at it. She’s saved us a bundle over the years.

When we were first married, one of the supermarket chains where we lived was doing triple coupons. Yep, you got it, triple the face value! My wife clipped every coupon she could find and went off to the grocery store in our full-sized LTD station wagon.

Several hours later, my wife came home. She had put down all the seats in the station wagon and had the entire back of it filled with bags of food. Total cost? $7.50.

I can’t promise you’ll find triple coupons, but that’s not the point. If you shop smart, you can save a bundle using coupons. What you buy might not be something you’d normally get and it may not be your favorite brand—but when survival time comes, you’ll be glad you have it.

One other little trick that I want to mention to you here is stockpiling spices. You can make just about any rationed food you cook taste great if you use the right spices.

Remember what I said about putting a little bullion in with your beans? Take it one step further with garlic salt, paprika or simple black pepper.

Make sure you check out the Expert Prepper website regularly for more great advice and prepping tactics:


If you follow these techniques and take advantage of every opportunity to get long-lasting foods for cheap, you’ll never go hungry in a disaster—even if your prepping budget consists of the change from returning your empties.